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Centering women’s experiences and narratives within the pathways to desistance
Murray, Laura J.
Welsh, MeganChoi, Jung
The rising rate of women's incarceration over the past four decades has presented unique challenges for re-entry practitioners and policymakers alike. A record number of incarcerated women means a high number will also be returning to their communities. Further research that centers on women’s experiences and voices, gender-specific practices, and programming are needed when considering these unique challenges and barriers that formerly incarcerated women face during re-entry and toward desistance from crime. There are two related goals of this research, based upon a phenomenological study and thematic analysis. The first aim is to focus on women’s life events through high points, low points, and turning points as defined by McAdams’s Life History Interview, exploring the contrast from the experiences and narratives of the men in this study. The second aim is to explore this contrast in life experiences centering on women’s narratives through the lens of narrative identity theory to seek a deeper understanding and how to better support women experiencing the re-entry process. The study is based on secondary data from a community-based project with a Massachusetts employment agency to better understand the impact on womens’ desistance processes and success on community supervision based on their specific life events. The data include a sample of men (n=12) and women (n=7) probationers and parolees currently under probation or parole and receiving services through the employment program. Participants' responses, their experiences, and themes around women’s desistance were developed by exploring life history narratives of justice impacted men and women during re-entry. The findings indicated notable contrast between the men’s and women’s life events such as motherhood in contrast to employment in the men’s high points responses, whereas there was overlap in low points related to substance abuse. Findings from this research will further the development of narrative identity theory to include women’s experiences as they relate to community supervision and desistance, and aid in the creation of gender-specific practices and policies for justice impacted women.
Professional Studies and Fine Arts
San Diego State University
Master of Science (M.S.) San Diego State University, 2021
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